State of Rohingya Muslims in India in absence of a Refugee Law

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Submission to the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. United Nations. Status of Persecuted Minorities

The timeline of key responses shows that the state has failed to acknowledge and act on its international legal responsibility to protect and have instead created societal as well as legal barriers for arrival and acceptance of Rohingya refugees in India. In 2015, the BJP-led government altered the Passport Act, 1967 and the Foreigners Act, 1946 to exclude people belonging to Muslim community to enter India without passport or in search of asylum. The 2019 amendment through the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) reiterates the position of the Indian government from 2015. The enactment of anti-Muslim laws such as the CAA has not only instilled fear among Rohingya Muslims, but also among Muslims who are citizens of India. In a report by the Anadolu Agency, youth Rohingya leader Ali Johar expressed that the CAA has instilled fears in the minds of the Rohingya Muslims, and that more than 3000 persons have left for Bangladesh to avoid the hateful vilification and deportation on account of being Muslim (Kapoor, 2020). He also said that many have also considered converting to other religions. The fear due to state oppression of minorities clubbed with the mainstream narrative of Rohingya being ‘terrorists’, ‘termites’, and unwanted criminal elements with connection to Islamic terrorism has created a wider narrative which seeks to criminalize and dehumanize Rohingyas in India.

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